Monday, September 29, 2008

Grado to Gibraltar?

One would think that moving a sailboat out of the water and into a secure boatyard would be the safest place to store it for an extended period. I'm sure John Kretschmer thought so when he left his boat, Quetzal, in dry storage in Grado, Italy. Quetzal is the 47-foot Kaufman cutter that Nan and I helped sail on our Odyssey trip this past spring. After we left the boat in Corfu, John sailed her with another group up the east coast of the Adriatic to Venice and then on to Grado, where he had her hauled out until he could return for the next passage.

A few weeks ago, I received an email message from Harry, another of the Odyssey crewmembers, that Quetzal had been seriously damaged. I confirmed the details in an email exchange with John. He said a tornado had struck the Grado boatyard and knocked Quetzal off her supports. Fortunately, she had fallen to starboard and landed on an inflatable boat so the hull damage was not severe, but not so fortunately, the mast and rigging came down on a powerboat next to the inflatable and on the fence beyond that. They were a total loss.

Instead of returning for his scheduled Trans-Med trip earlier this month, John returned to assess the damage and begin the process of making Quetzal sailable again. He ordered a new mast from the Selden company in France, at a cost of at least $20,000. With any luck, it should be delivered and installed in time for a November 1 departure. Then he'll need to hustle in order to meet a crew in Gibraltar, Spain in time for the November 22 start of the Trans-Atlantic passage he has had planned for over a year.

Since the Trans-Med passage was canceled, John will have no scheduled crew to help him sail from Grado to Gibraltar, so with Nan's approval, I volunteered. I offered to cover my own expenses in exchange for the opportunity to help John and one of the original Trans-Med couples sail Quetzal two thousand miles in two weeks, and John accepted. If it goes as I expect it will, with minimal landfalls and continuous overnight passages, it could be a serious experience builder. More details to follow.

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